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Guidance on the PRS Online Event Licensing Tariff

PRS for Music has announced a new tariff for online ticketed events, so we’ve published an explainer on what’s going on and what musicians need to know.

Published: 28 January 2021 | 12:44 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Photograph of a person watching a live streamed gig on a mobile phone in their house.
The MU represents both musicians, who in this case may need a licence from PRS, and the music writers who benefit from the licences PRS are operating.

Please note: Our latest guidance on PRS for Music's Online Event Licencing Tariff is published here.

PRS for Music has launched a new licensing portal for musicians, venues and promoters wanting to stage and livestream small-scale gigs, DJ events, classical concerts and theatrical events online.

Available for live online events staged in the UK with revenues below £500, the new portal will allow the event organiser to pay a fixed licence fee and obtain the necessary rights for their event simply and quickly. The licence fee is £22.50 (plus VAT) for events with up to £250 in ticket revenue and £45 (plus VAT) for events making £251-500.

For ticketed online events bringing in over £500 in revenue, PRS can be contacted for a bespoke licence and they are in the process of consulting on a special rate for these larger events to apply during the remainder of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the meantime, anyone considering planning an online ticketed music event that does not qualify for the fixed fee licence should contact the PRS for Music licensing team who can offer bespoke advice on licensing options.

Crucially, PRS for Music have said that they will not be actively pursuing licences for small ticketed online events that took place prior to the launch of the new portal on 27 January 2021.

If you are putting on a live event which is not ticketed, for example on Facebook Live or Instagram Live, then you will most likely be covered by the platform's own international licence and no further licence fee will be payable.

If you are hosting an event for free on your own website (without selling tickets) then you will need to get a Limited Online Music Licence from the PRS for Music website.

A form for submitting setlists is supplied by PRS and this should be done by the person taking out the licence, obviously in consultation with any performers.

So, why have PRS for Music announced this new tariff for online ticketed events?

Online live concerts are a form of video exploitation and require a licence for the same rights as any other type of online music usage. The tariff differs from the PRS for Music gig tariff because the licence covers a different set of rights; mechanicals and communication to the public (or broadcast) as opposed to public performance.

In the same way that MU members are in general paid increased fees for recording and broadcasting, PRS for Music members are due a higher royalty rate for this set of rights.

That said, there has been a backlash to the new tariff from music venues and some musicians who are concerned about bearing the additional cost of this licence during the pandemic when the live music sector is closed and online gigs provide a small but important revenue stream.

What if I'm just selling tickets for an online event to raise money for charity?

You will still require a PRS licence as you are still performing (or rather broadcasting) copyright works.

What if I'm teaching privately online and using or performing music as part of a lesson?

Contrary to our previous advice on this, we do not believe that private music teachers need an online music licence in most situations. We will issue further guidance on this as soon as possible.

Is the online ticketed event licence international?

PRS for Music have negotiated a licence which covers all repertoire managed by them and their international equivalents. This licence covers online events taking place in the UK.

They are proactively in discussion with other societies to deliver licensing solutions for UK based gigs and concerts which might be accessed internationally. A global blanket licence of this type would be the first of its kind within the collecting society network.

What is the MU's take on this?

The MU undertakes to respond to any consultation put out by PRS for Music or the performer collecting society PPL on tariffs which may affect our members' businesses. However, both collecting societies have their own internal Committee structures and set their own rates based on consultation of their own members.

There is naturally a huge crossover between MU membership and the memberships of both PRS for Music and PPL. The MU represents both musicians, who in this case may need a licence from PRS, and the music writers who benefit from the licences PRS are operating.

PRS and PPL members are encouraged to get involved with their collecting societies directly, keep an eye out for changes to their rules and licences which may affect them and contribute to any member consultations. We will endeavour to share news of relevance to our members which we hear from the two societies. Where we receive complaints or queries from MU members about PRS or PPL, especially where we receive multiple complaints about one issue, we will always take these to PRS or PPL for discussion and come back to our members with a response.

Where can I find out more?

PRS for Music is encouraging members to access its new educational webpage to find out more about how they can ensure their livestreamed gigs are properly licensed.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the MU’s Live and Music Writers Official at kelly.wood@theMU.org

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